In this time of church closure, we are still a part of the community. There follows a letter from Revd. John Hilton and a service for those who are in need of God at this troubled time
This week Janet and I should be on the Isle of Wight, a place that we have not visited before. The shutdown has put paid to that. So, we are at home trying to do a few things around the house and garden. This recent restriction to our movements has caused us to really feel for those with no garden or those who live in high-rise flats who simply cannot get out easily just for a walk or even sit in the sunshine. We must continue to pray for our land and indeed our world in these days. In particular those who are separated from loved ones, sometimes in difficult or tragic circumstances. So, I implore you to carry on praying.
We will return to our churches eventually, but when we return, may we not forget what we have learned about our faith and the value of things, deciding what is important and what is less so. Again, as before remember that if you need to talk then don’t hesitate to contact, myself, Jim Whelan or your Pastoral Visitor.
As we journey on, we will continue to send service sheets and links to services and other helpful resources. I will provide a mid-week study/meditation via the u tube platform taking the upcoming lectionary reading for that week. It is good that our Family Networker Tracey is connecting with families via Facebook, Zoom and the Standish Church web site, so please check out the Family network page on there. The building may be temporarily closed but the church is very much alive.
For those with Smart phones, i-Pads etc, you may wish to watch a live streamed service from Wesley’s chapel in London. The service times and link are as follows:
Sunday 9:45 and 11:00.
All these services will be available at: www.youtube.com/channel/UCUAUqhmhevz5sqhh72LIMxA
As last week, I am attaching an order of service for you to use if you wish in your home.
May the living Lord Jesus be with you this week,
Service for Sunday April 19th
This short act of worship has been prepared for you to use if you are unable to attend church. If you are well enough why not spend a few moments with God, knowing that other people are sharing this act of worship with you
Sunday April 19th
In places of darkness and in the fullness of light
Christ is risen
In times of doubt and in strength of faith
Christ is risen
In our pain and in our joy
Christ is risen
The Lord is risen
He is risen indeed! Hallelujah
Hymn: This joyful Eastertide (StF 314)
Sing/ Read /pray /proclaim the words or listen to it here
This joyful Eastertide,
what need is there for grieving?
Cast all your cares aside
and be not unbelieving:
Come, share our Easter joy
that death could not imprison,
nor any power destroy,
our Christ, who is arisen!
No work for him is vain,
no faith in him mistaken,
for Easter makes it plain
his kingdom is not shaken:
Then put your trust in Christ,
in waking and in sleeping.
His grace on earth sufficed;
he'll never quit his keeping:
Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000)
Let us pray together
In the chaos before anything was, Lord, you spoke bringing life in abundance.
We praise and adore you, God of life
In the darkness of an early morning garden and the dank coldness of death and the tomb, Lord, you spoke bringing resurrection, defeating death and giving us abundant life
We praise and adore you, God of Life
In the dark places of our lives, Lord, you speak and bring recreation transformation and calling us to life in abundance
We praise and adore you, God of Life
God of abundant life, you have called us to be your people and to walk in your way but there are times when we wander away, when we close our ears to your call and our eyes to your life. We remember those times before you.
Take all we have been and done and all we have left undone and transform it through your love and grace.
Open our ears to your words of forgiveness and our eyes to your glory.
May we hear the words “Your sins are forgiven” and know their truth.
Today’s Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 16
Today’s Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-31If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1: 9)
Today’s Reading from the Epistle: Philippians 2: 5-11
Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 21: 1-11
Time to Reflect
What does resurrection mean?
Shut behind closed doors for the disciples it comes first in disbelief, confusion and fear. The inability to believe Mary’s words, to take in the impossibility. The fear that they might follow to a terrorist’s death. Confusion that it could all have come to this.
Into those shut doors and fearful hearts Jesus comes to bring resurrection and peace. It is a resurrection that does not turn back the clock, does not erase the horror of the Friday but bears its marks and is recognised by them. Without those marks, the pierced hands and side, the resurrection could not be real, the life it offered could not be full.
It is a resurrection that joins the disciples where they are shut behind the closed doors of the room and of their fear. That again seeks them and Thomas out behind closed doors a week later. It’s a resurrection that will seek us out where we are and however we are feeling. It does not expect us to make a leap of faith and travel towards it but comes to us and meets us in our need.
It is a resurrection that offers life, calling forth peace and breathing the Spirit echoing God’s breath at the dawn of creation or the breath of the Spirit in Ezekiel’s Valley of bones. It comes to empower and to change and to lead us onwards into the Kingdom of abundant life.
But stop, notice the closed doors, not just at the first encounter but the second as well. It appears Thomas isn’t the only one doubting. The disciples are still locked in. John’s “Pentecost Moment” is not met with the throwing open of doors or the shouting of praises or the preaching of sermons. In John the giving of the Spirit is met with a gradual resurrection and empowerment of the disciples which crescendos with Thomas’s declaration ‘My Lord and my God!’ It echoes Lazarus’s first stumbling steps from his tomb before he is released from the grave clothes that bind him.
Take a time to sit quietly
A time of prayer
Into the closed doors of this world come, Lord, and speak your word of peace and life
We pray for all those who are afraid at this time.
We pray for all those who are ill and for those who yearn for their health.
We pray for those who are homeless and for those who struggle to feed themselves and their families.
We pray for those who have lost their incomes or whose businesses are at risk.
We pray for all those who offer care during this crisis often putting their lives at risk to do so.
We pray for our government and all the governments of the world, for business leaders and all who hold any power.
We pray for those who feel voiceless and powerless.
We pray for those situations that no longer make the headlines for those suffering from conflicts, war and oppression, for those seeking refuge and those who have no place of safety.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father ……
Hymn: Listen toNow the green blade rises (StF 306) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bwVEIxKp-0
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
In the grave they laid him, Love who had been slain,
thinking that he never would awake again,
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
he that for the three days in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
then your touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958) (alt.)
Lord I lift your name on high (StF 332)
Lord, I lift your name on high,
Lord, I love to sing your praises;
I'm so glad you're in my life,
I'm so glad you came to save us.
You came from heaven to earth
to show the way,
from the earth to the cross
my debt to pay,
from the cross to the grave,
from the grave to the sky:
Lord, I lift your name on high.
or sing a verse of a hymn that comes to mind
A prayer of blessing
May the light of the resurrection shine on your way
May the peace of the resurrection hold you fast
And may the abundant life of the resurrection fill you and empower you
And may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always.
Original Materials by R A Bending
Songs published under CCLI No 7587
Song of Trust and Security in God
A Miktam of David.
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.’
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink-offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
John 20: 19-31
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
Jesus and Thomas
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
The Purpose of This Book
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.